Killer Compost/Murderous Mulch

frustratedearthmother

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I have always used hay as a thick mulch throughout my garden. It's always worked out well by keeping the ground moist, keeping the weeds at a more tolerable level and adding nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. But, about 3 years ago I was a victim of 'murderous mulch'.

Garden had a great start even though I was late getting my mulch down. Tomatoes were big and beautiful. When the temps were starting to get really hot I gathered lots of leftover bales of hay and started mulching heavily. A couple weeks later my garden was dying.

Fast forward to the next spring and I started my garden in a different location. Got my mulch down early that year. Garden just never took off. I blamed the weather, the rain, poor seed quality, lousy transplants...

While doing some research trying to find any information as to why I was having so much trouble when before I'd always had bountiful gardens that I couldn't kill if I tried. That was the first time I heard/read about killer compost and murderous mulch. Made perfect sense then.

Didn't really have a garden last year - even in raised beds the weather was just too cranky. It rained for months.

This year will be different! I've got 15 big empty mineral/protein tubs used for cattle supplements. I'm picking up 15 more today. I know it'll cost a small fortune to purchase soil to fill them - but I am determined. But, I'm also concerned about purchasing compost/manure. Who's to say it wasn't made with manure/compost that has herbicide residue in it? I'm also afraid to use the manure from my own animals because I know the hay that I purchased for them this year was sprayed.

I'm thinking about posting a craigslist ad in search of "natural" hay that had no herbicide applied. I looked for unsprayed hay last fall, but was so anxious to get hay that I took what I could get.

I've had the pigs in the area that had the worst damage and they've turned the soil and added their own fertilizer to it. After they're gone I may try a small test spot in there to see if anything grows.

Anybody else dealt with these problems?
 

MoonShadows

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Never had this problem, but it is a shame...you work your butt off trying to do all the right things for your garden and your get blind sided.
 

frustratedearthmother

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It really is a problem because for years I'd use old hay that had fallen to the ground and had been naturally 'fertilized' by the animals. It was such a great resource for the garden. I've read that sunlight helps naturally break it down so I'm wondering if turning the soil and turning it again and again and again.... would help.

Found this website that explains a way to test the soil. Guess I'll be breaking out the bean seeds.

http://www.easydigging.com/blog/herbicide-in-compost.html
 

chefsdreams

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a shame to loose that beautiful garden. but they're putting herbicides & pesticides in everything now.
ever vigilant, as the saying goes...;)
 

NH Homesteader

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Yes I have heard of people having the same issue. Awful! No one I've bought from uses chemicals on their hay. But I do worry about this...
 

Britesea

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Wouldn't the chemicals be bad for the animals? I haven't run into this so I'm curious.
 

Hinotori

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There is also an issue with certain wormers and using the manure if I remember right.

I haven't heard of sprayed hay here. None of my farmer relatives spray it. Don't think alfalfa has many issues except gophers over on the dry side. (I always helped set traps when at grandma's growing up). The grass hay on the wet side here left alone until they do the single cutting.
 

Annabellam

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Still don't get the murderous mulch thing. Has it got to do with planting the same plants in the same place or why does it happen? I understand why you are scared about getting compost. You can never know whether it has herbicides or not.
 

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